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Rep. Tony Cárdenas Introduces Resolution Eliminating Juvenile Life Sentences

Jul 28, 2015
In The News

By Michael Oleaga

U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., has called for the elimination of life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles.

The San Fernando Valley congressman introduced a Congressional Resolution, which noted more than 2,500 children have been sentenced to life in prison, but the U.S. is the only country that allows life sentences without the possibility of parole.

"We are a nation built on second chances, and on the potential of human life," Cárdenas said in a statement.

"Yet, when it comes to our children, we have decided to be as punitive and destructive as possible. Even though we know that the brain of a child is different than that of an adult, and that therefore children are far less likely to understand the impact of their actions and far more likely to be rehabilitated, we still have thrown away thousands of lives, locking children in cages until they die."

Based on testimony submitted by Youth First! Initiative President and CEO Liz Ryan to the House Oversight Committee's Hearing on Criminal Justice, there are approximately 80,000 youths in a detention or correctional facility, including 20,000 in juvenile detention centers. Ryan stated 1-in-4 youths placed in youth prisons or other out-of-home confinement within the juvenile justice system have committee serious violent crimes, ranging from aggravated assault, robbery, rape or homicide.